Note: The INDYCAR Writers’ Roundtable is looking back at a fantastic, entertaining 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule to offer discussion and opinions about a variety of topics. This 10-part series will run regularly in October.
Today’s question: What was the best non-winning drive in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season?
Curt Cavin: There were several good ones, but Scott McLaughlin’s run from 15th to second at Texas Motor Speedway in his first oval race is my selection. The three-time Supercars champion looked nearly as good the next day, finishing eighth. Truly, outstanding performances.
Zach Horrall: I’m going to tip my cap here to Alex Palou in the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. First off, in hindsight it’s incredible to realize the end of the Indy 500 came down to one of the greatest of our generation and the eventual NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion. Alex put up a great fight all day long. He led 35 laps – only five shy from Conor Daly’s race-high of 40 laps. And he led six different times, one less than Helio Castroneves’ seven different times, which was the race high. He led as late as Lap 198, just two laps away from having his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy. I suspect he’ll be enshrined on that trophy sooner rather than later.
Paul Kelly: Sorry to be boring, but I’m siding with Curt. It took me hardly any time to decide that Scott McLaughlin’s drive to second in his very first career oval race May 1 at Texas Motor Speedway was the non-winning drive of the season. Scotty Mac started 15th, tiptoed around the super-slick upper lane at TMS as well as NTT INDYCAR SERIES veterans with double-digit number of oval starts and pushed legendary six-time series champion Scott Dixon hard to the checkered flag. It was a superb drive in the Genesys 300 on May 1 that hopefully isn’t forgotten because it was only the third race of the season.